Poor ol' Samsung. It's been a pretty hard year. After getting lucky and coasting on large screen smartphones for a couple of years, the company has spent the last 18 months or so getting pummeled. Apple is smacking Samsung around at the high end, and Chinese firm Xiaomi has been eating up the bottom end of the market.
Samsung has also found that no one—and I mean no one—cares for its me-too services and solution-in-search-of-problem software addons to Android. What's a shameless IP thief to do?
Well, if you're Samsung, you come out with an innovative service called Samsung Pay, a mobile payment solution that will launch with the Galaxy S6 sometime this year. And that Galaxy S6? Well, the company went back to its roots and made it look just like Apple's Galaxy-stomping iPhone 6.
Lookin' Good, Samsung
Source: The Wall Street Journal
It's funny. In a ha-ha kind of way. Samsung, a company desperate to be taken seriously. A company with delusions of software relevance. A company with a long and storied history of achieving success in the consumer electronics world by ripping off its betters, losing in court when accused of patent violations, and then dragging out the appeal-or-pay process until it no matter matters.
This company's response to being taken to the cleaners in the smartphone wars is to release a mobile payment system called Samsung Pay that works on a phone that is almost indistinguishable from the iPhone 6.
Bold move, Samsung. Bold move.
Above and beyond the obvious lawls, there are a couple of interesting aspects of this weekend's announcements. The first is that when Samsung was flying high off the success of the Galaxy S3, the company's next flagship device—the Galaxy S4–no longer looked like an iPhone. And the S4 was a success like its predecessor. The Galaxy S5 also had its own (cheap plastic) look and feel, but that's when the wheel fell off Samsung's cart.
The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus took away the one differentiating factor that consumers cared about on Android, the large screen. As I predicted a couple of years, ago, losing that one advantage left Samsung just another Android OEM, and the company tanked.
Its solution is to go back to copying Apple's industrial design.
Another interesting thing is that Samsung has begun accepting the reality that no one cares about its crappy software services that compete with Google's much better software services. The Wall Street Journal noted Samsung has partnered with Google, Facebook, and Microsoft to make many of their services prominently featured on the Galaxy S6.
That had to be a bitter pill to swallow for the company trying to foist S Voice, S Health, and a host of other S Products off on its unwitting customers.
Next: Samsung Pay and The Lawls
Page 2 -Samsung Pay
Lastly, there's Samsung Pay. This is one are where Samsung felt like it needed to continue to pretend that it matters. The company is going up against Google, which just announced Android Pay, and Apple's monstrously successful Apple Pay.
Android Pay will be successful. There's no doubt about it. There are so many Android devices out there that if enough OEMs—including Samsung—build in hardware support for Android Pay that it will be a viable mobile payment platform.
Samsung Galaxy S6
But Samsung Pay? Please. Let's start with it being limited to the Galaxy S6, at least as of now. Samsung sells a lot of devices, but the bulk of those devices have never been its high end models.
Apple can limit Apple Pay to iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus precisely because its product line is infinitely more streamlined than Samsung's. Apple also had the benefit of being able to launch Apple Pay on a device that was meeting pent-up demand for a large screen iPhone.
Samsung is doing one kindasorta interesting thing with Samsung Pay. The company is making Samsung Pay and Galaxy S6 compatible with legacy magnetic-strip readers through LoopPay, a company Samsung acquired this year. You know, because that's what users are clamoring for.
I don't see Samsung being able to get enough juice behind the Galaxy S6 to make consumers or merchants care about Samsung Pay. It could be a huge hit in South Korea, but it won't make a dent outside of Samsung's home turf. The company would have been better served working with Google to make the Galaxy S6 the flagship device for Android Pay.
Samsung isn't going down without a fight, but it's showing the world it doesn't know how to fight very well. Or elegantly. These new products and services will quickly become a footnote in the company's decline in this space.
Like I said, it's funny. When you see jokes like this from Samsung, it's easy to forget just how threatening the company appeared three or four years ago. At that time, Samsung was on the rise. It was gobbling up smartphone share, and the company seemed to be paying no price whatsoever for its willful theft of Apple's hard work and innovations.
It was infuriating to see the company derive success from its actions, and it made many Apple fans verklempt. Now, though, we see that Samsung had no clothes—it was never the emperor, merely a pretender to the throne.